At TeaCamp today, I’m taking the Campers through one of my new projects, Read+Comment, designed to offer hassle-free publishing of commentable documents online.

Introducing Read+Comment from Steph Gray

It’s based on some work I’ve done recently for BIS, updating the Commentariat WordPress theme so that the team can roll out more flexible sites around their strategies and consultations, and do it without needing technical support hence saving money and time.

From an outsider’s perspective, it looks like digital engagement in the UK in this specific area are going in three directions:

  1. Collaborative drafting and detailed commenting on a document, using platforms like WriteToReply
  2. Crowdsourcing, reviewing and prioritising ideas, using platforms like Delib’s OpinionSuite DialogueApp
  3. Ongoing engagement around a strategy, where the document or questions are the stimulus for a wider discussion, using blog-based platforms and social media channels, like Commentariat

Personally, I’ve always been interested in refining and perfecting number 3 – it’s where there’s the greatest potential in the short and medium term to engage stakeholders beyond those with a strong professional interest, in meaningful discussion about what government should do.

So I see Read+Comment as the next phase – a platform that makes it possible to publish a document online, and build an engagement platform around it, in hours rather than days, for hundreds rather than thousands of pounds, while staying within government rules on websites.

The Directgov Review is a nice example of the platform in action, garnering over 100 considered views in a couple of weeks, from a wide range of informed stakeholders. The cloud-based platform coped fine with the spike in traffic when the site was launched, and the team moderating the comments went from a standing start on a Friday, to a live site on a Tuesday, with virtually no training or support.

Looking forward, there are two big milestones on the roadmap over the next few months: one, to build a bigger support infrastructure around the site as the volume of hosted documents grows; and second, to build in a monitoring and tracking dashboard into the WordPress backend, so it’s easy to see how your project is going and report on the results.

If you’d like to test out Read+Comment on one of your projects, please drop me a line or give me a call on 020 3012 1024.

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Interesting stuff Steph, nice one.

Just a quick point though, it’s our Dialogue App that does the crowd sourcing in point 2, whilst Opinion Suite is now called Citizen Space and does points 1 and 3!

Ah, cheers Gez – now corrected above.

I think the ‘product’ space is quite interesting in our field – in evolutionary terms, it feels as though we’re emerging from a bespoke/pilot innovation phase into one with products designed as much to save us deployment time/cost as they are as to package features for potential clients to choose between. If this market is going the same way as fields like CRM and so on, maybe we’ll get to a point in the future where there’s a common infrastructure and set of standards for online discussion of ideas, and perhaps a handful of defacto industry standards – of which I’m sure OpinionSuite will be one šŸ™‚